Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An idea that worked for S'mee a long time ago...

Not that my kids were perfect, but here's a little something that worked for S'mee when the young'uns were tiny and I was beside myself trying to go it alone while Thor slay some beast in another state. 5 kids under 12 and not a husband around during the week and sometimes for weeks on end. I prayed for help; and this is what I got as an answer.

I made a chart on graph paper. Each child (all 5 of 'em!) was given a colour. Blue =#1, Red =#2, Pink =#3, Orange =#4, and Green = #5. It was easy, we just gave them their favorite colour.

On the chart I made 5 single columns that began at the top of the page for our bedtime (7:30) and went down the page in 5 minute increments until I got to the 3/4 mark on the page; somewhere around 2:00. Each column was coloured to match each child.

On the botton 1/4 of the page I drew a SIMPLE cartoon type picture of a mom with a smiling face and five kids with smiling faces, above their heads was a moon, a clock set to bedtime, and a plate of food - dinner. This picture was on the left side of the page. On the right side of the page was the same cartoon (I traced them) except this time all the faces were a bit red in the cheeks and had angry expressions. Above their heads was a sun, a clock set early, and a plate with a sandwich. These pictures symbolised "If we obey and get along -we get to go to bed at bed time and eat a nice dinner. - If not, we go to bed early and get a sandwich." (if you need to, copy pictures from a magazine or colouring book)

The paper was then laminated and hung with magnets on the lower part of the fridge so that the children could use a dry wipe marker to indicate when they choose to go to bed, by putting a marker dot over the time on the chart -in their column- each time they misbehaved. (They would also tell mom what they did to choose to go to bed early and say they were sorry. This was teaching them a simple form of repentance.) Each night the chart would be erased when the child was getting ready for bed. If there was a need for marking the chart again that day/night the marks counted against the following day. The second day my kids learned that it stinks to wake up knowing you are going to bed ten minutes early and the day just began! After a few days they got very obedient during bed time prep.

I decided I WOULD NOT argue any longer with anyone who was not my own age. I was THE Mom!!! Any arguments were answered by one more mark on the chart.

We had a family night such as the one described below. I introduced the chart and explained that each bad word, bickering, argueing, etc. would mean they were choosing to go to bed five minutes earlier. I explained it until they understood completely. The chart had pictures (above) so even though we had non readers they could "read" it. The main point was they were learning to make choices and be accountable for them. They were learning that they chose to go to bed on time or early by their actions.

Let me tell you that first day was a nightmare! My #1 went to bed at 3:30! But I held firm! At 3:00 I went outside and told him it was time for his bath and the bedtime routine began. Of course there were objections and by the time he finally fell asleep that night he had chosen to go to bed the following night an hour earlier. Not one of the five went to bed on time, in fact, all of them were in bed at least two hours early. BUT it only took about a week before that changed. Soon the bedtimes were on time or within a half an hour of normal. After a while the kids knew I meant what I said.

We also introduced a special "time jar" for when mommy and daddy misbehaved. If mom or dad said a bad word, were angry or broke the rules they had to put five minutes in the Time Jar. At the end of the week the kids got to decide how to spend that time with mom and dad.

It was a huge blessing not to have to argue with any one any more! It was not a dictatorship, however we began to discuss rather than argue. No more mean faces or funky noises when mom made a final decision. It was peaceful. And let me assure you that this set the ground rules for their teen years. Not too many parents can say their teens don't talk back, but mine didn't; they learned this habit when they were young and somehow it stuck. This also means that mom and dad are training themselves not to yell at their offspring and to control their moods as well. It worked for everyone.

If this sounds like it may work for your family you are welcome to copy the outline below.

Family Night Overview

Opening Song: Choose the Right Way CS 160

Opening Prayer:

Scripture: Mosiah 4:14-15

Ask each family member to tell of a time when they felt really happy.

Explain that Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to be happy all the time. When we look at the times when we are happy it is usually when we are obedient and following the commandments of Heavenly Father. Commandments are like Heavenly Father's rules.

Our home also has rules. What are some of our rules?

When we follow the home and family rules we are happy.

Satan does not want our family to be happy. He has come up with a plans to make us sad. One of his plans has a name: Contention. (see 3 Nephi 11:29) Contention means to argue or fight with each other, to use mean voices and angry words, and faces. When we disobey the family rules it makes Satan happy and Heavenly Father sad. It makes us sad too. We are Heavenly Father's children; we feel the same way Heavenly Father feels when we obey and when we do not obey. We do not want contention in our home; we want to feel happy inside.

Our bedtime rule is that the children go to bed at 7:30 so they can have a good night sleep and wake up happy and ready for a new day.

Let's talk about a new rule to help make us happy. It is a choosing rule. You will get to choose for yourself to obey or disobey.

Do you think it would help if we started to think carefully about our words and actions? Our words and actions need to be nice. We need to speak nicely to each other, not argue or fight, and to obey Mommy and Daddy without arguing.

Do you think we can choose correctly and make Heavenly Father and ourselves happy all the time?

Here is a special chart that will help all of us learn to choose the right and make changes so that we can be a happier family.

If we choose well all day long, we will get to eat dinner with the family and spend family time until our bedtime. Mommy and Daddy will spend the time right before bedtime helping you take a bath, brush your teeth, and get ready for bedtime. We will share a story, tell you the things you did right all day, say our prayers and sing a song before you go to sleep. That would make us all happy, right?

When we choose to disobey, or uses mean words, or argue, we will lose 5 minutes of the day. This means that we will need to go to bed five minutes earlier. If we who choose to disobey the family rules we will go to the chart with Mommy and cross off the bedtime by five minutes. We will also have to tell Mommy what we chose to do wrong and say we are sorry and try to do better.

It takes us a half hour to get ready for bed. So at the end of the day Mommy or Daddy will check the chart and when we are a half hour from the bedtime you have chosen, we will come and get you and help you get ready for bed. We will help you take your bath, brush your teeth, and get ready for bed. We will say prayers with you, tell you the things you did right, and tuck you in.

We will not get a story or a song if we choose to go to bed early. If we choose to go to bed before dinnertime, when it is dinnertime, Mommy will bring us a sandwich and a glass of milk. We will not be allowed to get out of bed without permission; if we choose to disobey then we will lose 5 minutes off of the next day. Even if it's sunny outside or we are not tired we will need to rest quietly in our bed. If we have to go potty, we will need to ask Mommy or Daddy to get out of bed. If we choose to pretend or be disobedient after we are in bed, then we will choose to lose another five minutes for the next day.

Prudence will be the red colour and Hortence will be the blue colour (and so on). Mommy and Daddy will help us to choose the right. If we argue with Mommy or Daddy we are choosing to lose five minutes.

If Mommy and Daddy use angry words or disobey the family rules they will choose to put 5 minutes in the special jar. At the end of the week, we will count up all the minutes. The children in the family can decide how to spend the time in the jar with Mommy and Daddy.

Do we think we can change for the better and make us all happy? Do we think that Heavenly Father will be happy with us?

I know that Heavenly Father will be very happy that our family is trying to be obedient and not allow Satan to make our choices.

Let's begin this tomorrow and see how much we more happy we can be by next week!

Closing Song: Quickly I'll Obey CS 197

Closing Prayer:

add to sk*rt


Maren said...

I LOVE this!! I love teaching children about making choices and the living with the consequences of those choices. What a wonderful thing for them to learn.

Reilly has really been testing us lately. I would love to do something similar to this to teach him about the choices he is making. I love what you said about not arguing with anyone who was not your own age. I will have to give this some thought as to how I could adapt it to our circumstances with Reilly's eating situation being what it is.

I also really like the idea of the parents being accountable for their behavior too.

chronicler said...

I really think we short change our young children by not teaching them how to be humans and interact with others. It is the heart of most dissatisfaction with life in my opinion.

Your model is a good one and could be adapted to any situation. Consistency is the key. If you had chosen not to enforce the chart because you had a pressing event or were just tired of the fight, the results would have been cocnfusing and disastrous at the same time.

It is the key to good parenting. You've got the young adults to prove your theories also.

s'mee said...

Maren and Chronicler, Thanks for your positive support! This was very difficult in the beginning, because as you both point out, *I* had to change! Wow! I was in essence changing *my* way of thinking, *my* patterns, and it was HARD! wah!

But as Chronicler also pointed out, by the time the offspring were in 6th grade we had very few rules. We never had a curfew, we never had to talk about what could or couldn't be brought home, or what was appropriate to wear. I think it came from starting this routine when they were tiny.

FYI: I got HUGE flack from other well meaning friends/parents who prophesied that my kids would rebel eventually because we were so hard on them when they were little. It in fact, had just the opposite effect.

Maren, Do we know why Rielly has a problem with eating? I may have missed something in reading the blog. Is this a medical situation? Either way, you have my support; because things like this sure are hard to deal with!

Maren said...

Reilly is allergic to almost everything. He has been hospitalized twice in his little life. There have been periods where he has lost weight and fell off the weight/growth charts. One of his actual diagnosis is food allergy anorexia. He was accepted into an intensive feeding therapy program at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore this past winter. It is a 2 month program. It has been life changing, so far. His current diet is limited to 4 foods, plus a nutritive drink that is sustaining him in the meantime. He still is mostly on pureed food, but has learned to chew and eats small pieces of pear with his meals. He recently got sick and was unable to keep anything down for about 5 days. With that, he started losing weight again (probably about 3 pounds which makes such a difference at his age and weight). He has recovered and is eating again and appears to be putting some weight back on.

Being consistent is the key. We learned so much at KKI about parenting and feeding. It is really really hard to change their behaviors and the resistance at first is major. With consistent and persistent effort, slowly things have begun to change and improve. Jeff and I have had to learn how to carry on the program at home without the support of therapists and specialists. They have follow up appointments and are available for help when we get stuck, but it is up to us to keep it going. We had gotten into a lot of bad habits because Reilly had been so sick and it was so sad. I am hoping that we will be able to take the things that we have learned from teaching Reilly to eat and apply them to parenting in general.

s'mee said...

Maren, That's incredible! It must be extremely difficult for you all.
I can understand completely how hard it is to watch your little one; being ill, doing therapies, the whole medical routine. It's tough to watch them in pain and misery.

I am glad that you are getting good help. I am excited that he is accepting pears! (yum, there's a bonus!) On the up side I had a friend who's child also had severe eating problems (digestion issues) and could only use breast milk. Things were so horrid for them for so long, but improve over time. They have since moved back east for better care. Technology is on the upswing and I am sure Reilly will only improve. It's that mean time that is a struggle.

You certainly have my prayers and support. I hope that the KKI will improve all of your situations and that your family can enjoy life to it's fullest soon. Hang in there. There is light at the end of these dark tunnels and there is ALWAYS hope. They told me my kid would never.... and here he is a big ol' strappin' fire fighter, who knew? God knew! It's all for a purpose, good, bad and ugly, you'll benefit from it in the end.

BIG HUGS to you sweety. Write if you want to vent or brag!

Maren said...

Thank you S'mee. Things are so much better than they were a few years ago, that we really feel blessed. In fact, it was Reilly's eating issues that led me to becoming friends with Lisa M. The first blog post of hers that I read was about how Ethan doesn't eat. I had to comment about that and we have become wonderful friends since. I was able to meet her on our recent trip to Utah for my brother's wedding.

I have learned much from watching Reilly in his struggles. He is full of light. There is something special about him. Throughout all of his sufferings, he has remained one of the happiest children I have ever seen. We have been blessed greatly by his presence in our family.

A son who is a firefighter. That is wonderful. Several years ago when I lived in Utah, I worked for the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy. I got to know many firefighters throughout the state of Utah. It was a neat experience. They have my utmost respect for what they do.

s'mee said...

Maren, That little boy of yours sure is a cutie! And you're right about Lisa, what a gal. I am glad that Rielly has such a dear family and that you can see him in his true light. I think that is one of the greatest blessings of having a "sick" kid, the parents get a true understanding of who they really gave birth to - and it is awesome!

The whole fire fighter thing is great except when I think about it! lol Now #2 wants to be a cop! I think they are trying to kill me. Why couldn't they grow up to be shoe salesmen?

Maren said...

How old was your youngest when you started doing this? Reilly is going to be 4 in August. He is really testing us right now with being disobedient. I want to start something to teach him about the choices he is making and the consequences.

Reilly and I just looked through your flickr account. Reilly loved the one firetruck picture. He wanted to see it again and again. He loves anything truck and especially fire fighters. He has told me that when he gets bigger he will be able to ride in a fire truck.

s'mee said...


s'mee said...

ugh! I have tried all morning to reply and blogger is funky!

Maren, #5 was about 3 1/2 when we began this. I figured if she knew what "no" meant, her bedtime, and could choose which ice cream, toys, or playmates she preferred- she understood well enough to participate. She had 4 "examples" (siblings) ahead of her, but I still think she could have handled it on her own.

With my kids it was more training *myself* rather than them. I was inconsistant and they never knew if I meant what I said. With the new FHE and bedtime chart I REALLY had to change *myself* first and that was HARD! IT WAS A LOT OF WORK! But after three days there was such a HUGE difference that it was worth all the headaches the days before. And like I said before it was easier for us as time went on; the foundation was laid and we stuck to it.

I don't think bedtime is the only answer, it was just the best choice for us. You could use anything that is important to him and that by losing it will make an impact. With *5* kids I thought the bedtime ritual would work for all of them and make my life easier.

Reilly is a smart kid, anyone who reads your blog can see he definately knows what he likes and dislikes and that he can charm the pants off a snake. This tells me he is ready to be taught.

Remember there is a huge difference between discipline and punishment. You want Reilly to go to college someday, to be a responsible man and father, to be obedient to laws, etc. All of these things require *discipline*. Training ones'self to do what may not be fun right now, but will benefit us now and definately later.

He can do this. So can you!

Feel free to write me any time; either here or at my e-mail address at the top of the page. I hope this helps. You have such a great little guy there!

Perhaps you can go to the fire station near by and arrange a special walk through/tour with the guys at the station. He probably can't ride in the truck or engine, but I bet they let him sit in it while they run the lights and siren. Maybe that can be an incentive.

I know the local $1.00 store here has children's play costumes. Every once in a while they have fire fighter suits and hats. That might help also.

Let me know, and again I know you can do this!

Maren said...

Changing US will be the key. I know. Still thinking about whether we will do this with his bedtime or something else (I am leaning towards his bedtime). This morning, he was starting off kind of challenging. Jeff drew five circles on a piece of paper and told him that each time he is disobedient or disrespectful, he would mark off one of those circles. If he filled in all five circles then he would not get to go to his friends birthday party this afternoon (he has been looking forward to this all week). His behavior shaped right up. Amazing.

Thanks for all of the nice things you have said about Reilly. He has been such a blessing to us. He is constantly keeping us entertained, which is a plus.

That's a good idea about going down to the fire station. He would love that so much. He already has a plastic firefighter's hat that he loves to wear. There is a video he gets from the library about "Firefighter Dave". He calls him "fighter-fighter Dave." I love the way kids talk when they are first learning how.

s'mee said...

I LOVE the 5 circles, what a great idea! I may steal that for Little Man! And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I think fighter-fighter rings true! That is killing me!

Maren said...

OK, we are having this family night tonight. I have made up a temp. chart for us to use this week. I want to make a nicer looking one to laminate. I really like this, I think it will be a good thing.